My whole life I have struggled with the presence of a stranger. A shadowy figure who lingers at the periphery of my existence. I have seen him in my dreams, this man without a face. Lurking… Watching… Waiting…
I never knew what he wanted exactly, but if it was fear he meant to instill, I felt it.
Hyper-vigilance as an adult is a reality for most who were victims of childhood abuse. Since trust becomes a big issue, every human encounter comes into question. I would wonder why that man on the street corner glanced at me a certain way. I was positive he meant to do me harm so I would cross the street in order to avoid him.
For many years I would double-check my blinds, pull the curtains tighter, glance into the back seat of my car before climbing in. A constant vigil of fear, bordering on paranoia, in order to protect myself from the lingering sense of danger.
It took many years for me to make the connection between that lurking stranger at the gate to the memories of my father. Eventually I realized I was still giving him power over my life by dwelling in the fear of what “might” happen.
I learned with the help of many wonderful, caring humans how to face my past and throw the ugly parts away. When the dirty memories would begin to creep in again, I would metaphorically throw them into the washing machine and cleanse them from my life.
Tomorrow is my birthday. Every year around this time that stranger has a way of creeping back into the shadows to pay me a visit. An ugly reminder that he played a role in the creation of my being. His unwanted DNA is intertwined with my own. But today I hold the power. He is no longer allowed to creep back into my life and cause me fear, not even on the day I was born. He did not earn that privilege, instead he lost it through his endless brutality and attempt to destroy my soul.
Today I am doing a little laundry. I will toss the dirty dregs into the machine, turn the scalding hot water on high and walk away with a smile.